The Mummy Returns
Director: Stephen Sommers
Written by: Stephen Sommers
Weapon of Choice: Spear
Based upon: none
Other movies in this series:
Rish Outfield's reviews
I was fortunate enough (on the evening of April 19th) to be at the first screening of the sequel to 1999's The Mummy, attended by participants of the film (hey, The Rock was there!) as well as the director, Stephen Sommers (the guy is approximately twelve years old). More importantly, all the popcorn you could drink and soda you could eat was free of charge!
So storywise, not to spoil anything, it's 1933, ten years after the original, Rick O'Connell has married Evelyn, they have an eight-year old son, Alex, and the forces of Evil are again on the rise, this time a complicated plot involving Imhotep, a bunch of new bad guys, and the threat of the return of The Scorpion King, a critter bigger and badder than any have seen before.
Two years back, The Mummy was the perfect example of a film which surpassed my expectations and thrilled my unsuspecting brain into an ecstacy of surprise and excitement. Yes, I SHOULD get out more. And now we have the sequel, and like all Hollywood sequels, this one is bigger, more extravagant, more eye-popping (and expensive), and less satisfying than its predecessor.
Now, don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad film at all. In fact, I'll probably drag my sorry carcass to The Scorpion King spin-off when it comes out. I like the cast (most everybody from the original returns, either as the same character or one of many reincarnated versions) and Brendan Fraser makes a fine Indiana Jones (okay, his character is named O'Connell, but dude, he even wore a fedora in one scene). Rachel Weisz has the best accent ever, kids, and the rest of her ain't bad. John Hannah and Oded Fehr play their characters exactly the same as they did last time, and that's fine. Patricia Velasquez is appropriately cold (and attractive) as the evil reborn Anck-su-namun. Even the kid (Freddie Boath) was alright, though I'm not the world's biggest fan of cute child actors. Actually, the character I most enjoyed was, surprisingly enough, Arnold Vosloo as Imhotep, who brought a nobility and odd affability to his titular mummy character.
Much more of an Action film than Horror (and less of a horror film than the original), it still dealt with monsters of every shape and size, from lightning-fast skeleton pygmies to the Scorpion King himself (whose reveal reminded me of Aliens, in that we see many beasties throughout but we don't see the mother of beasties--in this case, father--until the finale).
The heavy hand of The Matrix could be felt in this picture's action sequences, along with a much dizzier pace and editing style. The story seemed unwieldy, with too many characters and not enough logic (either they can travel awfully fast, or Egypt is a lot smaller than I imagined). Though I'm a fan of Alan Silvestri's work, his score wasn't as magnificent and rousing as Jerry Goldsmith's was in the original.
The film is quite a crowd-pleaser, though, with all sorts of neat creatures--scarab beetles, scorpions, snakes, jackal people, hawks, Rachel Weisz's generous cleavage, as well as the aforementioned awesome-looking half-man half-scorpion played by the Rock (who isn't given enough screentime to bother any non-wrestling fan), plus plenty of knife/sword/fistfights, in houses, jungles, buses, deserts, and pyramids. Like the first film, there was cheering, grunting, oohing and ahhing from the audience, though perhaps not as much. All through the movie, I felt that it was trying hard to thrill us, but was unable to capture the magic that came before (perhaps that's why there was never a fourth Indiana Jones film, regardless of what the powers that be say about availability).
And ILM's special effects, though amazingly extensive as usual (so many matte paintings and buildings and landscapes and vehicles and CGI characters fly by so fast or that you feel like rewinding many scenes), are just TOO much, overshadowing the characters and unnecessarily highlighting themselves at times. Some of them are so obviously special effects that it's hard to suspend disbelief--something you REALLY need to do in this film. I suggest anyone going to The Mummy Returns takes their disbelief beforehand and shoves it into one of those twist-lock boxes they feature in these movies. You'll enjoy it more.
At the same time, the big water chase sequence was just so impressive and fun, that I caught myself with a big grin on my face, something I had throughout the first Mummy. And you know, I may just be too old. Sure, I didn't feel these characters were in much real danger, and I would have preferred more character moments to immense setpieces, but I may have gotten too old and spoiled these past years to appreciate a movie like this. I'll just have to wait and see what others have to say. And under a different moon, it might be a very different experience.
Posted: April 20th, 2001
The tyranist's thoughts
If you couldn't get enough of the special effects and one-liners in the first one, you'll be more than sated here. I have to say that I was really looking forward to this one and had high hopes that it would be able to live up to its predecessor. Unfortunately, it followed the traditional path of the sequel and was somewhat of a letdown.
All the action and a lot of the same scares are back, not to mention some of the humor. On those counts I wasn't really terribly disappointed. My problem was with the density of the movie. Much of it was so fast paced that I found myself forced to pay close attention so that I wouldn't miss anything. There is just a little too much here. I would have been much happier with just a return of the mummy without all the extra hoopla. That and the final Scorpion King effect was really pretty bad.
Still, there is Rachel Weisz, who is as lovely as the first time around and has learned to kick ass as well. And I did find myself to be fond of the boy. Rick O'Connell isn't such a bad father after all. There seems to be a little less emphasis on the scholarly pursuit of ancient Egypt and more on the magic, but really, it holds a lot of the same draws as the first time around. Some of the minor characters are interesting and you can't argue with some of the spectacular effects.
I'm not really looking forward to another sequel at this point, but perhaps they will surprise me.
Posted: October 11th, 2001
Total Skulls: 19
|Rips off earlier film|
|Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie|
|Future celebrity appears|
|Former celebrity appears|
|Girl unnecessarily gets naked|
|Death associated with sex|
|Unfulfilled promise of nudity|
|Characters forget about threat|
|Power is cut|
|Phone lines are cut|
|Someone investigates a strange noise|
|Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door|
|Camera is the killer|
|Victims cower in front of a window/door|
|Victim locks self in with killer|
|Victim running from killer inexplicably falls|
|Toilet stall scene|
|Car stalls or won't start|
|Cat jumps out|
|Stupid discovery of corpse|
|No one believes only witness|
|Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth|
|Warning goes unheeded|
|Music detracts from scene|
|Death in first five minutes|
|x years before/later|
|Dark and stormy night|
|Killer doesn't stay dead|
|Killer wears a mask|
|Killer is in closet|
|Killer is in car with victim|
|Villain is more sympathetic than heroes|
|Blood spatters - camera, wall, etc.|
|Poor death effect|
|No one dies at all|
|Little kid lamely survives|
|Dog/Pet miraculously survives|
|"It was all a dream" ending|
|Unbelievably happy ending|
|Unbelievably crappy ending|
|What the hell?|